Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How To Host a Potluck

I've made mention of our potlucks before and thought it was time to tell you how we do it.

We've been hosting these dinners once a month for almost ten years now. The number of guests range from about a half dozen people all the way up to fifty. We set the dates at the start of the year and give the list to all our friends. That way, we're committed and nothing gets in the way of what is, for us, a very important event.

Our main rule is that we don't tell our friends what to bring. As far as I can see, the whole point of potluck is the luck. If you want to be sure of certain things on your table, host a proper dinner party and do the work yourself.

That said, we do have a back-up plan should we find ourselves seriously unbalanced. We can cook up a vat of noodles at a moment's notice should we find ourselves facing the (sadly mythical) All Dessert Potluck. And Alan almost always makes a dessert in case everyone is trying out their favourite casserole recipe.

In ten years of hosting, we've never had a disaster.

Our main task is to set the stage for a good evening. We have a drinks station, a main course station and a dessert station in different parts of the apartment. We set out stacks of plates (bought at thrift stores) and cloth napkins (again, sourced second-hand).

The All-Important Drinks Station

I often read advice in magazines to "make things easy on yourself" and use paper plates and napkins. Ghastly! Disposables are so bad for the environment. And, unless you have to carry them down to the river and beat them on rocks, laundering cloth napkins doesn't actually count as hard work, does it?

Besides, cloth napkins and real plates just feel so much nicer. And while I have no objection to washing piles of dishes after a party, somehow at these, the tradition has developed for our guests to take turns with the washing up(we don't own a dishwasher). We didn't instigate this, but neither did we stop it. I think our friends like the chance to have a quiet chat with one or two others.

When the meal is over, people take their leftovers home with them. Our only clean-up is a few glasses from the after-dinner wine. We collect the napkins for the laundry and blow out the candles. Another successful potluck!

Time With Friends - Priceless!

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